Escape Room, rated PG-13
Have you ever participated in the team building activity ‘Escape Room’? I have done it twice, once with family members, and once with a work team. When I did Escape Room with my Atlanta team, I enjoyed seeing each member of the team demonstrate their leadership skills, resulting in us solving the mystery before the one-hour time period elapsed. This intense thriller is based on that activity, but with some real life and death consequences. The film is directed by Adam Robitel (The Taking of Deborah Logan) and the screenplay is written by Bragi F. Schut and Maria Melnik. In this era of mammoth movie budgets (The budget for Aquaman was $160 million), this film’s budget was just $9 million.
The film follows six strangers in Chicago who receive an invitation to participate in an Escape Room experience. They don’t know who the mysterious invitation is from, but they are told that if they solve the puzzle and get out of the room, they will win $10,000. The six strangers are Zoey, played by Taylor Russell (Lost in Space), Ben, played by Logan Miller (Love, Simon), Amanda, played by Deborah Ann Woll (True Blood, Daredevil), Mike played by Tyler Labine (New Amsterdam), Jason, played by Jay Ellis (Insecure), and Danny, played by Nik Dodani (Murphy Brown). As the film progresses, we see a brief glimpse into their backstory, which reveals a common connection. What we don’t know is why they specifically were chosen to play the game, or who invited them to play. Whoever it is, knows things about the history of each of the participants. We quickly see that this is not going to be your usual Escape Room experience.
This is an exciting thriller that builds in suspense and will keep you on the edge of your seat. Each of the rooms are different, and have challenges for the group. The musical score from two-time Emmy nominee Brian Tyler (Sleepy Hollow, Last Call), and John Carey (Crazy Rich Asians) helps create the tension and suspense (though you will never listen to Petula Clark’s “Downtown” ever the same again). Content concerns include adult language, several abuses of God’s and Jesus’ names, violence and extremely intense situations. Themes include helping others through sacrifice and teamwork vs. looking out for oneself (survival of the fittest).
The cast was solid, and the film started strongly as the six strangers worked well together. As time goes on, the true character of each of the strangers becomes clear. The film could have ended stronger and it definitely set things up for Escape Room 2.
Escape Room is an exciting thriller with some good plot twists, but has some significant content concerns and the ending wasn’t as good as the first two thirds of the film.